The oddball precipitation known as graupel could make an appearance in the Chicago area Saturday, meteorologists say, causing challenges for drivers and people who don’t know how to pronounce graupel.

The substance — which, by the way, is pronounced “GRAH-pull” — is essentially a smaller and softer form of hail that resembles Dippin’ Dots. Unlike sleet, which is snow that melts and refreezes on its way to the ground, forming translucent pellets, graupel is rain that freezes traveling upward before it drops, creating tiny snowballs.

“It’s normally something we experience in the transition seasons, in the cold seasons when temperatures aloft are really cold,” said Ben Deubelbeiss, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Chicago.

He said parts of the Chicago area could see graupel from late morning until evening, with the chance diminishing toward the south.

“Some will see it, some won’t,” Deubelbeiss said. “I wouldn’t expect much in the way of accumulation.”

Following whatever excitement the graupel provides, the Chicago area will enter a dry spell. Sunday will see highs in the upper 40s and sunshine later in the day. The work week that follows should be cool and dry, Deubelbeiss said.

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